How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#14 overall) of the 2007 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves
2008 – Rome (Sally League – Braves Single A) – 120 games
- 11 homeruns, 52 RBI, 15 stolen bases
- 49 walks, 74 strikeouts
2008 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 7 games
- 4 RBI
- 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
2008 Totals (2 levels – 127 games)
- 11 homeruns, 56 RBI, 15 stolen bases
- 51 walks, 78 strikeouts
2009 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 49 games
- 10 homeruns, 31 RBI, 4 stolen bases
- 21 walks, 30 strikeouts
2009 – Mississippi (Southern League – Braves AA) – 47 games
- 7 homeruns, 30 RBI, 5 stolen bases
- 28 walks, 19 strikeouts
2009 – Gwinnett (International League – Braves AAA) – 3 games
- 2 RBI, 1 stolen base
- 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
2009 Totals (3 levels – 99 games)
- 17 homeruns, 63 RBI, 10 stolen bases
- 51 walks, 51 strikeouts
Baseball America – #1 (ATL – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (ATL – 2009) – 5 star
Project Prospect – #1 (Hitters – 9/2009), #1 (Corner Outfielders – 11/2009)
John Sickels – #1 (ATL – 2010) – A
Heyward burst onto the scene following his excellent 2008 season, flashing all 5 tools against decent competition while only 18 years old. He played in only 99 games during the 2009 season due to a hip flexor injury, but made excellent use of the games he did play in. He missed the majority of the month of June, but was promoted to AA Mississippi a couple of weeks after his return. He didn’t appear to miss a beat, posting a .352/.446/.611 line while there, and earning himself a late season promotion to AAA Gwinnett.
Heyward has shown against tough competition that he can hit for average, power, and can run as well. He profiles as a corner outfielder long term, but I imagine that he could potentially center field in a pinch as well. Heyward’s minor league progression reminds me a lot of the path that Justin Upton took to the Majors. Upton dominated in the Southern League at age 19, and started the following season with AAA Tucson. Upton also got a call-up midseason 2008, and has never looked back. I do believe that Heyward, when he is called up, could possibly have similar struggles to Upton’s first full season. Heyward’s talent will eventually lead him to long-term success in the Majors.
Heyward has pretty much become the consensus top position player prospect in the Minors, and is almost always in the top 2 of nearly every prospect list that includes both position players and pitchers. The Braves have done well to not rush him along too much, and should definitely see the fruits of their labor very shortly. And they’re really going to enjoy it. I can see Heyward developing with age into a potential 30-30 player on a yearly basis, and posting a high average along with it.
Heyward will most likely start the 2010 season at AAA Gwinnett, but if he does well in the early part of the season, could see a mid-season call-up. Even though he will start the season as a 20 year old in AAA, I fully expect him to dominate as he has at previous levels, and get that call by the All-Star Break. The Braves have 2 of their outfield spots filled with CF Nate McLouth and LF Melky Cabrera, and a bit of a hole in RF. Matt Diaz will be called upon most likely to fill that spot until Heyward is ready. Once he is, I expect him to stay there a long time.
Projection for 2010
AAA: .330/.410/.500, 10 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 60 games)
Majors: .285/.370/.470, 6 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 80 games)
2010. No later than mid-July.
Tomorrow’s Prospect up for Review: Starlin Castro (SS) of the Chicago Cubs